Can you see me now?

by Jessie Kwak

My color palate is normally pretty subdued. Shades of dark gray combined with some solid jewel tones—mainly berry purple, cerulean, and leaf green. Sometimes a pop of burnt orange to liven it up.

So it may come as a shock to find me wearing this:

Neon yellow cycling dress | Bicitoro

Why, yes! That is a neon yellow dress with reflective trim on the flounce! Thank you for noticing.

A few months back I ordered several bolts of rayon jersey from Fabric Mart. A nice gray herringbone and a gauzy brick red that are both right up my alley–as well as a bolt of neon yellow rayon-elastane jersey that I somehow just couldn’t resist.

Me. Not resisting neon.

It’s a weird feeling.

I began to obsess about a dress made out of this stuff, and I finally got around to making this a month or so back. I’ve been trying to make time for a proper photo shoot with the husband, but it just hasn’t been in the cards.

Which is why I spent the morning involved in an incredibly awkward photo shoot with myself.

Neon Yellow dress jumping | Bicitoro

Trying to sort out the 10-second timer.

Glad that no one was around to see me.

(By the way, if you’re wondering where I got that enormous cowboy boot prop, it’s at Georgetown’s Hat and Boots Park. Of course! I talked about it a bit in this article for ParentMap Magazine.)

Hats & Boots park | Bicitoro

This dress is crazy comfortable. It’s made of a double layer of jersey, from a pattern I created myself. Well, by “created,” I mean that I traced one of my favorite tank tops, lengthened it by about 15″, then added cap sleeves and a flounce.

The flounce is a non-Jessie-like touch, too. But I’ve been spending far too much time around little girl dresses lately, on account of my last few years working as a children’s clothing catalog writer, and I’d become obsessed with the idea of owning a skirt with a flounce.

Because it’s obviously not visible enough, I also added reflective piping in the flounce seam. Can you see it?

Neon yellow cycling dress - detail | Bicitoro

You know a color is bright when its brilliance overshadows the reflective piping.

I had planned to change back into my normal clothes after the photo shoot, but I think I’m going to wear it out when I meet my coworkers for drinks later.

Neon yellow cycling dress 2 | Bicitoro

For such a sporty dress, it pairs surprisingly well with my painted heels.

Painted shoes | Bicitoro

I’ve had these for months, too, but never really found a chance to blog about them. They work pretty well on the bike, actually.

I wish I could be a bike-in-heels sort of girl, but there’s nowhere I can bike from my house (except within our tiny neighbourhood) without needing to be pretty aggressive. I just wouldn’t feel safe riding with semi trucks in heels and a skirt.

Are you succumbing to the siren call of neon yellow? I’ve still got 13 yards of jersey, and I’d be thrilled to send some other neon dresses out into the world.

It’ll probably take me a while to get a posting up on my Etsy, so just shoot me an email if you’re interested.


Review: bike-in-the-rain Minoru jacket

by Jessie Kwak

A long time ago, I made myself a cycling jacket, the Minoru jacket from Sewaholic Patterns.

I always meant to write up a review of it, but I put it off so long that eventually I forgot about it.

Minoru cycling jacket 1

Until Crystal left me a comment earlier this week asking how the coat turned out, and jogged my memory. This was my reply:

Hey Crystal–

I’ve always meant to write a review of this jacket now that I’ve used it for a while–thanks for jogging my memory.

I really like the jacket for light-activity rides, but I find that even if it’s super cold out I get way too hot in it. I’ve reverted back to just wearing some wool sweaters and a warm vest when it’s super cold (in Seattle, in Jessie terms, that means 30-40 degrees). There’s something about having my core warm and being able to regulate the temperature through my arms that just works out better for me.

The Silkara works well for a light drizzle, but I’ve been caught in heavy rain before and it didn’t actually do a lot for me. I could probably re-up the DWR finish, but it’s not meant to be totally impermeable.

Caroline of Little Package has a great guest post up on Sewaholic.net about sewing waterproof outerwear where she talks about seam finishes. You definitely want to check out that post if you’re going for fully waterproof.

In conclusion, I love the Minoru’s silhouette, and I get tons of compliments wearing it. But because I tend to ride hard and get sweaty even in the cold, I simply can’t wear a full coat comfortably except on local rides (within my neighborhood).

Definitely let me know if you make your own Minoru–it’s a rad jacket.

I wanted to repost it on the blog so that others could see it.

The Silkara fabric is proof against light rain, though not heavy rain. What it’s really great for is acting as a windbreak—this means that the jacket’s really quite warm, even though it’s lightweight.

The problem with being quite warm, however, is that if I’m riding more than a couple miles I overheat. Plus, if you want to ride most anywhere in South Seattle you’re either riding up a hill or hustling to dodge industrial traffic—not exactly the type of cycle chic leisure ride that I can do without breaking a sweat.

I tried the Minoru for my commute for a couple weeks, but eventually I reverted back to lots of wool jerseys and my fleece-lined vest (which I’ll be talking more about in Friday’s DIY tutorial). That works fine for the normal Seattle drizzle that doesn’t actually get you wet, though I do still need a waterproof layer for if I get caught in a downpour.

I’ve been thinking about trying to make a rain cape—something lightweight that can roll up into a small bundle. It would keep me dry if the rain started pounding, but still have enough ventilation that I wouldn’t get too overheated.

Thoughts? How do you stay dry in the rain?


New column at ORbike.com

by Jessie Kwak

Just a quick hit today–head on over to ORbike.com to read the first in a series of monthly columns I’m writing for them. This month? Winter Cycling Style.

Have a lovely day!


Finished: Bike-in-the-rain Minoru Jacket

by Jessie Kwak

I’m finally finished with my bike-in-the-rain Minoru jacket, just as the rainy season rolls back in to Seattle. It was my first attempt at sewing a “sporty” jacket, and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

I used Silkara Ultrex that I got at Seattle Fabrics, which is water resistant, and surprisingly easy to sew with. (Be sure to come back Friday for my notes on sewing with Silkara.)

Sewaholic patterns are designed for “pear shaped women,” which I am not. My bust and waist measurements are a size 10 for this pattern, but my hip measurement was actually a size 0. So, as I did with my Cambie dress, I graded the pattern down at the hips.

In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t done that. I probably could have graded down a bit, but now the jacket’s a bit more snug in the hips than I would have liked, and it lost some of the nice silhouette.

The only other modification I made to the pattern was to shorten the torso above the waist by 2″.

I wanted to post some photos of my muslins, but all the photos were terrible, and no amount of messing with them made them internet-worthy. Sorry. But I could see in my first muslin that the elastic waist shaping hit my torso at a strange spot, so I pinned out a couple inches along the bust line, and liked the look of that much better.

Tasia provides lines on the pattern for shortening the overall length, but as they’re at the hip, they wouldn’t have done it for me. Instead, I measured 2″ above the waist elastic line and pinched out the excess there. When it came to tracing out my pattern, I just smoothed out the cutting line at that spot.

As I mentioned when I first started talking about this coat, I added hip pockets (I always have my hands in my pockets), and decided to omit the inner pockets because I was feeling lazy.

We learned that I photograph best against telephone poles.

Overall, I like the fit of it. It’s a vast improvement on my ratty old shapeless rain jacket (I blogged about how much I hate it here), though I haven’t had a chance to test it out while riding in the rain. I’m sure nature will help me remedy that real soon….

I feel like the collar is out of control if I’m not wearing a scarf, but Rob loves it. He says I look like I’m in Blade Runner.

Harrison Ford in Bladerunner

(Mr. Harrison appears via Geek Peeks. I appear courtesy of Rob’s camera skills.)

Hmm. That’s pretty good, actually.

Since this was my first try at a sporty jacket, I sewed it up according to the directions without adding or changing features. My wheels are definitely turning for what my next project will be like. Reflective details, waterproof zippers, seam tape, and zippered pockets, for sure.

Sounds like it’s time for another trip to Seattle Fabrics….

Plotting fabric aquisitions.


On deck: Sewaholic Minoru cycling rain jacket

by Jessie Kwak

I’ve had plans to sew a waterproof Minoru to replace my old rain jacket for some time now. It would have made sense to sew it over the summer so that I could have it at the ready once I needed it again, but alas, I didn’t.

This week, however, I’ve found myself with a sudden, brief window of free sewing time. Because I greatly overestimate my ability to get things done, I plan to not only make a long overdue jacket for Rob and the winter coat I promised my niece, but also to start on the Minoru.

Aim high, right?

I chose a graphite-silver Silkara fabric for the shell. It’s supposed to be water resistant—I bought it at Seattle Fabrics, where they stock a variety of colors.

For the lining, I plan to use a rayon challis print that I bought some time back. I’m a big fan of using crazy prints as linings on otherwise subdued garments. Rayon is absorbent, so I’m hoping it will help mitigate the internal-moisture-collection problem that I seem to have with rain jackets. The challis is a very thin fabric, so it should dry quickly.

I’ll line the sleeves in something slipperier, to make it easier to put on and take off.

Tasia of Sewaholic Patterns hosted a great sewalong last spring, which I intend to reread thoroughly as I go along. She also included a post about sewing waterproof outerwear by Caroline from Little Package.

The Minoru pattern looks awesome as is—the one thing I plan to change is to add pockets in the side seams a la Amy from Sew Well, and I also have some ideas for reverse-appliqué reflective decorations, as well as reflective piping in the seams.

I’m still working out all the notions—I need to make a trip up to Seattle Fabrics to find waterproof zippers, etc.

Time to get rolling!